Enjoying a rare day of sun in the British capital, a cyclist was on his way to drop his six-year-old son, also on a bike, to school when a van driver impatiently, and rather dangerously, crawled up to the side and attempted to overtake them, before honking and swearing at the two — all this on a School Street during drop-off hours when no motor vehicles are allowed.
The cyclist posted the video of the incident which took place yesterday morning at 8:35AM on Chevening Road in Norwood, Croydon on Twitter. The road has signposts indicating that the road is a pedestrian and cycle zone only, on Mondays to Fridays between 8 and 9:30AM, and 2 and 4PM, the usual drop-off and pick-up hours for school.
Terrible driving by @RobertLeeDist on a closed school street. If you can't wait 5 seconds and endanger me and my 6 year old you are not fit to drive, let alone professionally. Then you swear at me in his earshot. @DulwichRoads @London_Cycling @MikeyCycling @theJeremyVine pic.twitter.com/vYvbrmJiov
— CBikeLondon (@CBikeLondon) September 21, 2023
He told road.cc: “I was thinking what a gorgeous autumn day and happily chatting with my 6-year-old son going to school when you can see the shadow of the 3.5 tonne van appear and the driver try bully his way past us instead of waiting mere seconds behind and then pass safely.
“The road at that time is a school street and he was driving through illegally anyway, but regardless it’s more the manner of driving and his unnecessary swearing that annoyed me.”
“Just a bad driver who can't read signs or ignores them regardless. Also likes to bully cyclists with his big van and swear at strangers with their kids next to them,” he added.
He also tagged the company to which the van belonged to, Robert Lee Distributors, who describe themselves on Twitter as “the UK's largest distributor of bathroom, kitchen and plumbing products”.
The company was quick to respond to the cyclist and apologised for the driver’s behaviour and called it “unacceptable”. They also revealed that the driver was from an agency and not one of their employees.
“Nonetheless, he is driving one of our vans and representing our company in a manner that does not support the ethos of our business, and for that I can only apologise again,” they wrote in the email to the cyclist.
— CBikeLondon (@CBikeLondon) September 21, 2023
The chief executive officer of the company also added that they would support the police should they wish to investigate the matter further to maintain “the safety of our roads and more importantly our children”, before requesting the cyclist to pass his apologies to his son.
“I’m quite happy with the response from company, and they were quick,” said the cyclist. “My little one is unfazed and keen to ride every day rain or shine up and down big hills too.”
He added that he has reported the incident to the Met, and is waiting to hear back from them on whether an NIP has ben issued or not. “I would be happy if they offered the driver an improvement course,” he said.
School streets are areas which restrict motor vehicles outside schools at drop-off and pick-up times and apply to both school and through traffic, while typically continuing to permit access for people living there. They also aim to encourage children to cycle, scoot, or walk to school.
However, there was a reluctance by many councils to implement them, as we reported in 2021, despite the government advising them to do so.
Parents, meanwhile, have been calling for the measure to be adopted. In fact, children and parents took to the barricades last year in a bid to prevent their ‘school street’ being ripped out by the pro-motoring mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman, who had earlier been removed from the post after being found guilty of electoral fraud and “corrupt and illegal practices” in 2015, and just yesterday led the charge to scrap majority of low-traffic neighbourhoods in the borough, in spite of “overwhelming” public support of the cycling and walking schemes.
In June this year, parents of children attending a primary school in Worcester, where children riding their bikes had been put in danger by motorists using a narrow, nearby lane as a shortcut, established their own guerrilla School Street by blocking both ends of the road at school pick-up times, in response to the “horrendous” road safety conditions in the area.
The reasoning behind so many urging for School Streets, as you'd expect, were due to the risks posed by motorists to children on bikes. In November last year, a video of a kid cycling in heavy traffic went viral — viewed over 3 million times on Twitter and even discussed on Jeremy Vine's Channel 5 show — and a number of high profile Conservative politicians pointed the finger at the kid's father for letting him cycle on the road.
Even Sajid Javid, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer, who has also served as the Home Secretary and Secretary of State for Health and Social Care during his time in government, said that the "five-year-old's father" was in the wrong.
And then a month later, in a strikingly similar fashion, another video caused a deja-vu moment, as a taxi driver dangerously passed a child accompanied by her father, on a School Street.
One of #Londonsfinest showing they have no Knowledge of how to pass kids safely and no Knowledge of what streets they are allowed to drive down. @azb2019 @theJeremyVine @markandcharlie pic.twitter.com/8obKBkAs8F
— Greg N (@n00dles71) November 30, 2022
Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.